A Steep Downward Trend — Even Without Lockyer

By September 24, 2006Global Warming

Josh Treviño, one of the many good folks at the San Francisco-based Pacific Research Institute, shares our assessment of Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s lawsuit against automobile companies as political opportunism. Furthermore, Treviño notes, for all of Lockyer’s chest-thumping on global warming, the trends are headed in the right direction. From the Capital Ideas newsletter:

Between 1970 and 2003, that industry has achieved immense reductions in annual emissions in the United States: in volatile organic compounds, about 17 million tons to about 4 million tons; and in carbon monoxide, from about 160 million tons to under 60 million tons. In that same period, emissions per mile driven in the U.S. have dropped even more dramatically: in hydrocarbons, from just under 11 grams per mile to nearly zero; and in carbon monoxide, from about 85 grams per mile to about three. That’s a steep downward trend — made more impressive by the tremendous increase in the number of automobiles in the given time period — that shows no signs of abating. It’s not too much to say that the automobile industry has done more to alleviate the problem of emissions — and hence climate change — than Lockyer’s suit could ever hope to accomplish.

We’ve been struck by the relative paucity of commentary on Lockyer’s lawsuit. The auto companies probably see little benefit in waging a full-scale PR battle, since the lawsuit isn’t really about facts. And, given the fate of a similar lawsuit — eight states against utilities — maybe people just aren’t taking him very seriously.

(Albany, N.Y. -AP, Sept. 16, 2005) – A lawsuit filed by Connecticut and seven other states aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions from some of the country’s largest power producers was dismissed by a federal judge Thursday.

The states sued five companies that own 174 fossil fuel-burning power plants, claiming that they contribute to the problem of global warming.

But U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Preska in Manhattan said that in asking the court to set CO2 reductions, the states want the judiciary to craft wide-ranging environmental policies that would affect the economy, national security and foreign policy. She said such “political” decisions should properly be considered by the president and Congress.

“Cases presenting political questions are consigned to the political branches that are accountable to the people, not to the judiciary,” Preska wrote.

Just so. The states appealed, of course, only reinforcing their overreach — trying to replace judicial activism for the policy decisions that rightly belong in the legislative branches.

UPDATE: Blogger-In-Chief notes he posted about Judge Preska’s 2005 decision when she issued it. Post here.

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